The Collective Studio has a life of its own that is really very special. The various corners of it hold surprises each day for me as I make my "cup-of-tea" round in the morning. In fact I love it the most when the artists are not around at this time and I can just roam around quietly observing their work. It is also the details that clutter their personal spaces that tell me the most interesting stories about them. Today it is travel and reading, looking and feeling and continuously shaking oneself out of the comfort of the familiar that these young people are encouraged most to do. Talking with my own teacher last evening we spoke about how age determines the curiosities of pursuit. How there is a vital need as a visual artist to swim in waters of a certain type of exposure and learning, especially in relation to cinema and literature, where everything must be viewed and internalised. There is both the past and the present that needs to be contextualised when we are younger, and the processing of information that should leads us to substantiate the positions we take.
But as time goes by many of these things start to become obsolete in some strange way. The antennas of perception get trained onto other nuanced areas of life that then become the provocateur of stimulation to ideas and visual articulation. Sometimes time alone in my studio is far more valuable that sitting with the Collective Studio artists to watch a film screening. Our library is filled equally with theoretical books as well as sumptuous books of visuals. However today I have finished my quota of theoretical reading and my need now is much more to spend time delighting in visual conversations, where my curiosity is not about the how or the why, but more of a sensual pleasure of knowing and understanding from the culmination of information and experience blended together. Therefore a museum (a place I can lose my self for hours) visit these days becomes like a walk with a friend. A time of quiet conversation and reflection.
Which brings me to my reading these days. I was gifted, by a wonderful girl friend of mine, William Dalrymple's The Last Mughal. I am excited to sink my teeth into this inviting narrative of a passage of history that I have wandered through so often over the last thirty-five years as a painter. A story of Bahadur Shah Zafar, and the consequences of the East India Company's wresting of political power; and the city of Delhi from its pinnacle to its destruction in 1857. I think from what I can gauge from the samplings that I steal a read of from the voluminous pages of this historical saga, is that the writer has a crisp and simple style that allows you not to get buried under the weight of the topic itself. I contemplated taking it on my trip to Amsterdam, but have decided to wait as it weighs a ton and I can imagine my spine protesting with the over load!
Instead ( I am sure this will raise many eyebrows) I bought Jerry Pinto's co-authored biography on Leela Naidu. Both these individuals intrigue me. Leela because she represents a type of woman from an era that my mother and my maternal aunts come from. One of my aunts died of alcoholism and holds a story of similar tragic consequences where dreams become nightmares in ways that are sad to perceive. Jerry Pinto on the other hand is someone who I have observed over the years from a distance. And on too many occasions he shoots his mouth off in public in ways that leave you wondering whether the energy tablet he takes perhaps has expired. Wired up and always more defensive than is necessary, the last time he made me wince was on a program with Niddhi Razdan where she finally blocked him out! Well Leela can well be termed as a collaboration of beauty and the beast perhaps, so let's see! I hope it holds a narrative that explores a society which reflects the political and historical times that frames her life.